Sandy Art Guild’s “Beauty and the Beast” is a Magical Version of this Oft-Told Tale

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By Bridges Sayers

The Sandy Amphitheater, nestled away on a hill, is a treasure chest full of hidden theater gems, and the current treasure is Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Sandy Arts Guild continued their legacy of wonderful performances with their most recent performance of the classic tale of Belle (Jessica Sundwall) and the Beast (Jayson LeBaron) as they overcome magical spells, impossible circumstances, and ultimately discover that true beauty is found within. With music by the brilliant Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, and book by Linda Wolverton, this show weaves together the most adored parts of the original movie with some new, exciting moments.

Naturally, the show demands a large production, and Sandy Arts Guild pulls it off with grace and finesse. I was particularly impressed with the Beast. His voice is sheer perfection for the role. His rendition of, “If I Can’t Love Her” is nothing short of magic. LeBaron understands the necessity for both the softer and more powerful parts of the role, and each character decision exceeded my expectations. I have seen this show many times, and I have yet to see a Beast tackle the role with such raw talent. LeBaron left me wishing that the Beast was an even bigger part, because I never wanted him to leave the stage. His relationship with Belle is sweet and expressive. I particularly enjoyed their blossoming romance during the library scene—it is well-paced and delicious to watch. Sundwall, on her own, is a talented dancer. Her performance during, “Be Our Guest” and, “Me” are wonderful. While I did find some of her character choices to be somewhat too forceful, I was awed by Sundwell’s rendition of, “A Change in Me.” At that point, I was sold on her characterization.

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Sundwell is complemented wonderfully by her father, Maurice (Nelden Maxfield.) Clearly a seasoned performer, Maxfield tackles the oddball role perfectly. I thoroughly enjoyed his performance during “No Matter What,” and really bought into the relationship between him and Belle. His relationship with Gaston (Russell Maxfield) is similarly rich. There is a solid foundation built between the two characters, which paves the way for a greater understanding of what takes place onstage. Russell Maxfield is wonderful with creating those relationships, particularly with his henchman Lefou (Tommy Kay.) I adored the two of them together, though I suppose I shouldn’t say that about the villains. Gaston grows in his villainy throughout the show in a horrifying yet brilliant manner. We all know a Gaston of our own, and Russell Maxfield does a fantastic job of developing a character you love to hate. Kay brings humor to the scenes with his lovely physicality and his well-chosen voice inflections. The duo is complimented brilliantly by the Silly Girls (Kristi Gowda, Allison Klippel, and Micki Martinez.) The trio of girls are hilarious onstage and really bring energy to all that they do. I found myself laughing aloud at their antics more than once.

While I loved the townsmembers, the castle-dwellers are the clear stars in the show. Aaron and I bickered about who was the best amongst them. Our personal favorite was the natural star, Lumiere (Brandan Ngo.) He does not play Lumiere, he is Lumiere. Ngo understands the role in a way few do. His vocals during “Be Our Guest” are both flawless and enchanting. I particularly loved the consistency and clarity of his accent—it aided his characterization and never disrupted his ability to be understood. Very well paired with Lumiere is the uptight Cogsworth (Kevin Cottam.) Typically a role that is easily forgotten, Cottam brings energy to the role in a way that makes it unforgettable. His relationship with Lumiere is touching, even if it is full of bickering. The duo is complimented wonderfully by Mrs. Potts (JaNae Cottam.) Her vocals during “Beauty and the Beast” are lovely and sweet. I particularly enjoyed her relationship with Chip (Morgan Thompson. CC Keel plays Chip Tuesday, Thursday And Saturday), the youngest actor on stage. JaNae Cottam truly works to facilitate the success of Keel, who is a show stealer in her own. The whole audience couldn’t help but let out a sweet sigh anytime she was onstage. Other notable performances come from Wardrobe (Ashley Shamy) and Babette (Danielle Nielson.) They both nailed their accents and really had fun on stage. Their energy makes them both clear standouts.

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Director Laura Lerwill clearly understands the show well. The pacing of the show is wonderful, and though there are natural ups and downs in the script, there is never a dull moment. She is brilliantly paired with Choreographer Marilyn Montgomery. I particularly adored Montgomery’s work during the ensemble scenes, such as “Belle” and “Mob Song.” The sharpness of the ensemble is impressive. Technical Director Steve George does a wonderful job with such a large cast, ensuring that each person can be heard and gets their moment to shine. A clear star in the production staff is Set Designer Ricky Parkinson, who created a stunning, comprehensive set. I was surprised by how elaborate and beautiful it is. Costume designer Karen Chatterton created wonderful costumes for most of the cast, though I found Belle’s dress to be a bit dull for the role. However, her costuming of the Beast, Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, and Wardrobe are truly gorgeous. The show is accompanied by a very talented live orchestra, led beautifully by Orchestra Manager Anne Puzey. I adore the music of this show, and the orchestra did a phenomenal job with it.

I want to thank the Sandy Arts Guild for being wonderful ambassadors for the arts—every representative I met or spoke with was incredibly kind and helpful. I always appreciate when theater’s show this kind of hospitality for all of their guests.

If you are looking for a fun-filled family night, come join the magic of Sandy Arts Guild as they present Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. This show is perfect for princes and princesses of all ages. If you’re hesitant to see it because you recently saw the live action movie, the stage version is completely different from the movie—and I mean that in the best of ways.

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Sandy Arts Guild presents Disney’s Beauty and the Beast by Linda Wolverton

Sandy Amphitheater (1245 E 9400 S, Sandy, Utah 84094)

August 4-12 8:00 PM

Tickets: $8-$16 (though there’s not a bad seat in the house, I must say!)

801-568-2787

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Before you run out of time, take time to see Utah Rep’s Production of “The Last Five Years.”

By Megan Graves

At 7:15pm on Friday night, instead of leisurely sauntering into the small Sugar Space Theater to choose the perfect seats for the musical The Last Five Years, my friends and I were sitting in my car on the shoulder of the freeway median, waiting for the tow truck to come because the car’s timing belt had suddenly broken. It was slightly ironic that we were going to be late to a show in which the wear and tear of time was a main theme, and in which one of the main characters Cathy sings “I will be waiting for you” repeatedly, but the effort we made to still see the show was totally worth it.

In a month or so, most of you will be at least familiar with the story of The Last Five Years, since the movie adaptation with the popular Anna Kendrick is coming soon to theaters in Utah, and is already playing in select theaters in the U.S. But if you skip the play and only watch the movie, you would be missing out on a fresh, versatile, aesthetic experience, as well as symbolism and metaphors that, on a stage three feet away from you, are more poignantly obvious than they would be on any screen.

If you go see the Utah Repertory Theater’s performance of this play (and I highly recommend you do!) be aware this is not your typical conquer-the-villain, rescue-the-princess, happily-ever-after musical. You will experience a sometimes too close-to-home, possibly cathartic, emotional roller coaster; you’ll laugh and cry and worry and stare in shock at the choices that the characters (and that everyday people!) make. Director John Sweeney said, “The musical brings out the heart of what people are going through at…points of time [in a relationship]—the young youthful of excitement of when you’re first in love…and the wearing down of life.”* It’s a reflection of how two people could go from romance found to romance lost.

Rhett Richins and Julia Carlson are a powerful duo in Utah Rep's production of "The Last Five Years."

Rhett Richins and Erin Royall Carlson are a powerful duo in Utah Rep’s production of “The Last Five Years.”

Yet despite the emotional roller coaster, being able to view a romance from the perspectives of both Jamie—played by Rhett Richins, and Cathy—played by Erin Royall Carlson, as he travels forward and she travels backward through their 5-year relationship, brings the realization that their relationship could have worked out, and that they both contributed to its demise with seemingly small yet significant choices. This makes the play truly like a paradoxical tragedy. We see the hope and very real possibility for a strong, equally-yoked, lasting relationship at the same time we see a relationship crumbling before us.

Richins told us, “when Jason R. Brown wrote this musical, it was an autobiographical portrayal of five years of his life.”* Because of this personal attachment the writer/ composer had to the plot, every aspect of the musical has significance. Similarly, the Utah Rep director and actors made thoughtful artistic choices to portray the themes and disconnect of time and perspectives in the musical. They rotated the middle of the set clockwise or counter-clockwise depending on whether they were going backwards or forwards in time, respectively. Cathy was wearing a lot of white or bright colors, perhaps alluding to the hope she still felt that things would work out, contrasting with Jamie’s cooler colors. They also added some contemporary elements that made us laugh and brought us in to the story, like Cathy saying Jamie “doesn’t have to like Taylor Swift” for her to like him, and poking fun at the people who cast Russell Crowe in a musical.

Lighting choices were also significant, and descriptive of their relationship. When Jamie is literally jumping around the stage telling his story of a fictional character Schmuel, Cathy is sitting in the shadows. Sweeney said this was a deliberate choice, “to have one actor sometimes be in the shadows during the other’s song, representing the aloofness of the two and causing the audience to question what’s going on in their relationship and why they are not fully engaged in the main action on the stage.”* “The Schmuel Song,” as told by Jamie, was surprisingly one of my favorite parts, because of Richins’ energy and amazing use of character voices, and because of my wonderment at Cathy’s apparent indifference to his enthusiasm. It is a kind of play within a play, as Jamie tells Cathy the story of a man and a woman who had to learn to value the time they had with each other.

Another of my favorite parts was Cathy’s audition scene. It was not only hilariously performed, with snarky side comments about the accompanist going too fast, and also excellent changes in voice timbre, etc., but I’m sure most actors can also relate to the anxiety of auditions gone awry. Not only that, for her auditions she sang the song “If you come home to me, I’ll wear a sweeter smile” to empty chairs on the stage, which to me was a poignant reminder of the fact that Jamie and her were slowly becoming absent from each other’s lives.

The small, live band was an unexpected treat, and an integral part of the show, under the direction of Anne Puzey. They added to the dramatic effect, because they could follow the actors’ changes in tempo.  They were right on the same level of the stage with the actors as well, which made them almost a part of the cast, especially in the scene where Cathy is auditioning for a musical (another play within a play, if you will).

Also, because the musicians were on stage with the actors, we paid more attention to repeated musical themes that accentuated the story. In a lot of the songs, the strings used percussive techniques, like playing col legno (on the wood of the bow) or tapping the wooden backs of their instruments, to make the songs sound more mechanical—like a clock. In the song “The Next Ten Minutes,” the two actors blended perfectly on “I do” when they said their vows. It was one of the most romantic and beautiful parts, especially from three feet away, and the only part in the play where they actually look in each other’s eyes, but the minor chords in the music playing during the ceremony gave a sad, almost foreboding tone, with multiple repeated phrases, kind of like an alarm clock, or a reminder that time was running out.

They couldn’t have chosen a better cast. For two actors to keep the audience enthralled at every minute, when they are basically singing multiple monologues and changing emotion with every scene, is an incredible feat. Carlson said they couldn’t look at each other in certain scenes, and they had to keep acting with sometimes completely different emotions than each other. “Going from being emotionally scarred to portraying being blissfully in love…Reversing my timeline… was one of the hardest things. Vocally it’s been trying, but so fun and rewarding.”*

Not only did the actors’ emotional energy and involvement of the audience keep us engaged, I was amazed at how fast their costume changes were. On top of that they helped move the set as well! One thing I noticed was that this need for speed, and their involvement in every aspect of the play, sometimes caused minute wardrobe malfunctions and probably contributed to their need to adjust their mics during a few of the scenes. Regardless of these small technical distractions, for an opening night, it was superb.

The actors’ alternating use of their fourth wall seemed incredibly well thought-out and deliberate. At times they seemed to be talking to us in the audience when they were defending their position or telling their side of the story, as if we were a silent jury.

My friends and I were talking about the musical’s themes and what we loved about the story and songs for a long time afterward, and I would recommend this play to anyone. Whether you are in the throes of a budding romance or experiencing the painful pangs of a lost love, everyone has something to learn from the story of “The Last Five Years.” Hurry and see it before you, or your car, get caught up in the wear and tear of life and run out of time.

We made it to the show! *In the foyer of the Sugar Space Art Studio in Salt Lake

We made it to the show! *In the foyer of the Sugar Space Art Studio in Salt Lake

*(As I only had small spaces in the margins of my program in which to write, and no voice recorder, the actors and directors quotes are paraphrased, with some punctuation added, and written to the best that my shorthand and my memory could offer. I apologize for any missing articles or other essential parts of speech, but am willing to take small partial credit for anything that made it sound poetic.) 😉

Utah Repertory Theater Company is presenting The Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown Feb. 27-March 14, varying showtimes, at Sugar Space Studio Theater; and March 20-22 at Ogden Ziegfeld Theater, varying showtimes. Tickets are $10-18 depending on the showtime and place. ***Content is PG-13 (some swear words, difficult/strong emotional themes). See websites for more details.

Sugar Space Studio Theater 616 Wilmington Ave, Salt Lake City, UT 84106 (888) 300-7898 http://utahrep.org/tickets/

Ogden Ziegfeld Theater 3934 Washington Blvd, Ogden, UT 84403 (855) 944-2787 http://www.theziegfeldtheater.com/#!last-5-years/cr5x

Invite your friends to Silver Summit’s Company

companyBy Jason Evans

Company, with music & lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by George Furth, premiered on Broadway on April 26, 1970 at the Alvin Theatre. It was highly successful and ran a total of 705 performances; it won the 1971 Tony award for Best Book of a Musical, Best Score, Direction (Harold Prince), Best Scenic Design (Boris Aronson) and Best Musical.

The basic story involves a series of vignettes involving a bachelor named Robert, Bobby to all of his friends (played by Rick Rea) and how he learns about the joys and perils of love, marriage, dating and divorce from his married friends. This show radically changed musical comedy when it premiered. It is not plot driven, but psychologically driven; in a nutshell, it brought existentialism to the American musical. Existentialism was basically a philosophical movement focused on the existence of the individual. It is a musical examination of the institution that is matrimony, which is both piercing with its psychological clarity, and buoyed by the comic appreciation of human frailty. This musical includes some of the best and most beloved songs by Sondheim including “Another Hundred People,” “Not Getting Married Today,” “Sorry-Grateful,” “Ladies Who Lunch,” and “Being Alive.”

This particular production is being staged at the Sugar Space Arts Warehouse in downtown Salt Lake City. It is basically an old warehouse that has been converted to a theatre space, quite nicely I might add. Michelle Rideout, founder of The Silver Summit Theatre Company, has done a nice job of converting this space into a theatre. I have only seen one other production in this space and that was their joint production with Utah Repertory Theatre Company of August: Osage County. At first it may seem like a huge space, but it grows on you and I personally am very comfortable there. This is their very first musical and I feel it is a triumph.

Director Kate Rufener states in her director’s notes that her approach to this piece is based on the notion that even though we crowd ourselves with love, relationships, and gain comfort in those, we yearn for a life where nothing is missing, no empty spaces, basically avoiding the voids in our lives. Ironically and unfortunately, those relationships often end up focusing on all that is missing in our lives, causing us to fill the void with all “the little things.” We need to go after what we really want in life. Know what we really want. As one of the characters at the end of the show tells Bobby, “Want something. Want something.” This is a very nice jumping off point for this particular musical and it served it well in this production. We watch as Bobby jumps through three relationships throughout the course of the show and how he tap dances between them, looking to fill that void but not willing to fully commit to someone. His friends’ lives and relationships are all at different levels of dysfunction, but at the same time, there is much love there in those relationships.

I really loved the personal touch that Rufener brought to this piece. During moments of personal reflection with Bobby, she featured all of these couples on stage showing their relationships with each other and how being with someone, “Company,” can enhance a person’s life tremendously when pursued with a personal passion and vigor. The other personal touch was at the end of Act One, when Bobby goes through a personal epiphany and realizes he is ready for marriage but doesn’t want to fully commit. The director has this reflection, the song “Marry Me A Little,” being sung during individual dates with the three girls he is currently going out with. This added a very personal flavor to the portrayal of Bobby and supported the song very well. I really felt as if I was in Bobby’s head.

Bobby, portrayed by Rick Rea, did an outstanding job in portraying a lost young man in the prime of his life searching to fill that void. I felt for him and was rooting for him from the very beginning. This is solely due to Rick’s very honest portrayal of Bobby. By the time we near the end of the show with his final realization of “What he really wants,” portrayed in one the of the most famous songs of the show, “Being Alive,” we feel a sort of catharsis with Bobby and we come out of this production better people and understanding of knowing what we want in life and going after it.

The rest of the ensemble was outstanding. The ensemble consisted of: Sarah (Eve Speer) & Harry (Brandon Rufener); Peter (Ricky Parkinson) & Susan (Lindsay Bateman); Jenny (Natalie Easter) & David (Natalie Easter); Amy (Ali Bennett) & Paul (Mason Holmstead); then the three girlfriends, Kathy (Rachel Schull); April (Heather Shelley); and Marta (Natalia Noble). Each couple only has brief moments to portray their respective stories, but each of them was unique and completely honest in their portrayals. There was never a false moment in the show. I fell in love with each of these couples and that is not an easy thing to do, but it is what makes the difference between a mediocre production and an exciting, fresh look at a classic, which is what Kate Rufener’s production does very well. The pinnacle of the show comes at the end when Bobby is out for dinner and drinks with the oldest couple of the group, Larry (Brian Gardner) and Joanne (Marcie Jacobsen). When after a long time friendship with this couple, Joanne offers to have an affair with Bobby, it forces Bobby to really look at himself and his life, and Marcie Jacobsen’s performance of Joanne beautifully provides the catalyst for that change in Bobby. I have seen Marcie Jacobsen deliver powerhouse performances before, but this one was truly a showstopper. Anyone familiar with the show knows about the most famous song from this show, “The Ladies Who Lunch.” Marcie knocks this number out of the ballpark in a heartbreaking rendition that left me totally speechless. There was no applause at the end of the song, which I personally feel is a huge compliment to this wonderful actress.

I love this musical with all of my heart. I love Stephen Sondheim. I keep asking myself every time I see one of his shows, “How does he know what it’s like?” “How does he know what I’m struggling with in my life?” “How does he know so much about the human condition?” He just does. This incredible piece of musical theater is living proof that Stephen Sondheim is one of the greatest living composers of the American Musical Theater. Congratulations to director Kate Rufener, her incredible cast, the wonderful Anne Puzey (Musical Director), and Michelle Rideout and Silver Summit Theater Company for putting on a wonderful testament to Stephen Sondheim’s genius alongside George Furth’s incredibly touching and insightful script. I truly walked away from this production, moved and my mother and I couldn’t stop talking about it all through the drive home. Everyone needs to see this production!

Company by the Silver Summit Theater Company plays Fridays & Saturdays (November 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22 at 7:30 PM, and Sundays, November 9, 16, 23 at 4:00 PM.)

Where: The new Sugar Space Arts Warehouse, 130 S 800 W in Salt Lake City. The easiest route is to travel to the exit off I-15 (600 S); turn left on 400 W; left on 200 S; right on Jeremy Street; right on 100 S; right on 800 W; the warehouse will be on your right (it is a red roofed warehouse amongst residential homes); you can access the driveway to the immediate north of the building and the parking lot is behind the space as well as on the street. I had no problems finding it.

Tickets: $15 in advance online (BuyYourTix.com), click on the Silver Summit Theatre Company link; or $18 at the door.

Content Advisory: Does contain adult subject matter, mild language, onstage theatrical depiction of marijuana use and one scene of mild sexuality. If this were a movie, it would be rated PG-13.

Website: www.silversummittheatre.org

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The Egyptian’s Evita is Magnifico!

EVITA

By Joel Applegate

The art of the possible puts art and politics in bed together. That’s what’s so compelling about Evita, the 1978 musical that maybe some might think is past its time, but no; the marriage of politics and power is still as relevant as it ever was.

For those unfamiliar with the historical record, a brief primer: Following a career in radio and film, Eva Duarte was married to Argentine Army Colonel Juan Peron in 1945. The colonel was elected president the following year and Eva served as First Lady until her death in 1952 from cancer. Evita tells the story of how she rose from poverty to “Spiritual Leader of the Nation of Argentina”. What is extraordinary about her life is that her influence was monumental – even mythic now – despite her never holding political office. Thus, the whole story is subject to opposing interpretations and is not the stuff of sainthood. More than a musical, this fascinating operetta explores all of that.

The story begins at the end. The ensemble cast makes a stirring entrance carrying Eva’s casket down the center aisle, ending in tableau. From there, the narrator of the piece, Che, takes us back to a teenage Eva; ambitious, pretty and already eager to leave her short past behind her.

Historic newsreels appear on the screen at the back of the stage. This device is used throughout, deftly incorporated into the set design by Justin Jenkins. The video idea mostly works, placing us in context and history. The projections worked really well in cafe scenes and other interiors. However, there were moments where less would have been more. The moving images of the newsreels stole focus a few times, especially in Eva and Peron’s last scene together. A still would have worked better, instead of the film clip that took our attention away from a critical moment in these actors’ really great performances.

And great they are. As Eva Duarte Peron, Erin Royall Carlson possesses a fantastic, throaty voice over which she maintains excellent support and control. Carlson’s great accomplishment here is that she doesn’t lose her character in her beautiful voice. Her first trio with two of the excellent ensemble is bright and lovely to listen to. Carlson’s amped ambition builds throughout the first act as she sets about assuming power’s mantle. Eva’s signature song is, of course, “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina”. If ever Broadway produced a pop aria, this is it. Carlson’s uncluttered voice soared in this and I wasn’t disappointed in the moment I was most looking forward to. I think I was holding my breath the whole time. I am entirely impressed with Carlson as both actor and singer in equal measure.

Leading the men, William Cooper Howell as Che got the attitude really right. Maybe he sneered a little too often, but his tenor is clear and his range is broad, though perhaps a little challenged in the falsetto range. Howell proves to be an athletic and nuanced dancer as well. David Weekes as Juan Peron has an operatic clarity to every note. His excellent vocals are both profound and tender.

Two steps on Eva’s ladder upward deserve special mention. As Migaldi, a popular singer, Monte Garcia sings in a soothing, strong tenor. “Night of a Thousand Stars” was really a pleasure – I wish it had lasted longer. Erica Walters as Peron’s jilted mistress shines in her one moment singing “Another Suitcase, Another Hall” clearly and with poignancy.

Let me make it clear that I think Evita gave us some of Broadway’s best music ever written. The score is majestic, the melodies unforgettable and the lyrics informative and passionate. And these performers are exceedingly talented and more than fit for their roles. Anne Puzey’s musical direction and conducting is superb.

But. This production has some serious sound problems. They can, I hope, be fixed quickly. The vocal gain was almost too high on the personal mics. Yet the orchestration, in the opening numbers anyway, overwhelmed vocals. The whole volume level was a touch too loud for the medium-sized theatre. Everything seemed too loud for the space. Che’s mic seemed calibrated wrongly for his voice. And as excellent as the work of the ensemble is, it was odd that some of the individual solo lines tossed out could barely be heard. The criticism I have is not about performance, but purely technical. The balance between the vocals and the very capable, small live orchestra just wasn’t right. A sound engineer needs to thoroughly check over the mix.

The direction by Amber Hansen is well suited to the theatre. The spare staging works very well with the action taking place among set pieces easily accommodating scene changes. They lend intimacy to the story, while the film sequences projected on the back wall give it its context in the world. The lighting by Peter Mayhew took an active role, using the instruments to focus attention and add enhanced dramatics.

I loved the choreography. It was fascinating, balletic and acrobatic. I do have to concede a point to my seat companion though; the Generals in their “Art of the Possible” number reminded him of oompa loompas rather than the militaristic moves usually highlighted in other versions of this number.

Costumers Jaxine Rogers and Jeanne McGuire did a magnificent job costuming Eva’s nearly one dozen outfits. I’ll never forget the picture of perfection as Eva sang her signature piece clad in bare-shouldered white accented only in a serene blue sash.

Two men in the ensemble – you know who you are: Guys, you need haircuts. You could make it a guys’ afternoon out – a bro-date – or invite a barber to your man cave. Doodz, I’m doin’ you a solid here… the hair simply ain’t right for the historical period or the military uniforms you wear in many scenes. When compared to the other guys on stage, the floppy coifs are weird and distracting.

For all of that, I loved this show. I really did. I can’t stop humming the tunes, and what I do to them in the shower shouldn’t be discussed. But bear with me for one more beef: Why aren’t the musical numbers listed in the program? I’ve never seen them omitted before for a stage musical.

The Egyptian Theatre is a venerable venue (my bad, I couldn’t help that) on Main Street in Park City.  It opened on Christmas Day, 1926, and has been wonderfully restored. The space’s Egyptian motif is charmingly evoked and the seats are old-style, but comfortable. It’s a great place to see a play. And you really ought to see this one.

Evita July 5 – 28, 2013. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm, and Sundays at 6:00 pm.
Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., Park City, Utah 84060
Phone: 435-649-9371

Website: www.egyptiantheatrecompany.org

TICKETS: Reserved $39 Advance/ $44 Door
Front-of-House $ 49/ $54 Door

Side Show Cast Bonded Together to Create an Entertaining Show

By Larisa Hicken

On January 19, 2013, the new Utah Repertory Theater Company made its theatrical premiere by presenting the musical Side Show at the Echo Theater in Provo, Utah. Founder Johnny Hebda started the group (previously known as Utah Musical Theater Company) with the goal of bringing lesser-known shows to Utah. Their website describes the new company as, “Utah’s newest semi-professional theater dedicated to presenting high-caliber productions rarely seen in Utah, including premieres, musicals, Pulitzer prize-winning dramas and comedies.”

Side Show, by Bill Russell (book and lyrics) and Henry Krieger (music), certainly fits the bill since it has never before been performed in Utah. The musical tells the unique story of Daisy and Violet Hilton, conjoined twins who performed in side shows and eventually Vaudeville in the 1930’s. The show has a compelling story and explores poignant issues, but presents some obvious challenges in production with its cast of “freaks.” Perhaps this is one of the reasons it is so rarely performed.

Director Johnny Hebda put together an interesting cast with both professional and amateur actors in ages ranging from middle school to ages-that-shall-not-be-named. In spite of the wide variety of actors, the cast was obviously a tight-knit group who had worked together to develop authentic relationships that were apparent on stage.

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